Home Lifestyle A message to ‘augmented and digital’ parents: Why are kids so drawn to screens?

A message to ‘augmented and digital’ parents: Why are kids so drawn to screens?

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by Caroline CooneyDoctor of Cognitive Psychology, HDR, Professor of Psychology at the Grenoble Ecole de Management. & Yannick Chatelain, Associate Professor. digital information technology. GEMinsights Content Manager, Grenoble School of Management (GEM)

2023: Screens, our children…. We are parents…

Children are inevitably drawn to modern technologies, including screens in all their forms, where yesterday’s television was added that sometimes provides peace and quiet in selected programs, tablets, smartphones, computer screens … which among us is not the method of education chosen for their children by those who worked More for their development in the world: eg Steve Jobs, who said in 2011 that he and his wife Lauren Powell limited the number of digital gadgets their children could use at home,Microsoft founder Bill Gates is known for restricting screen time and banning cellphones at the dinner table, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote a letter to his newborn daughter in August of 2017.outside shooting »»! “weird did i say weird?Parents often wonder why their kids are so interested in these devices, note that like TV yesterday, screens are a source of calm during long car trips, right? And that more and more smartphones proliferate undisturbed on the table during family dinners…so…whose fault is this? In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes screens very attractive and whether Attractive children and in what ways, beyond common sense, and beyond a new law that interferes very strangely in France with private life in Create a numerical majority, replacing parental authority, at least “restraining” it. If this law seems to us “out of place” for the reasons mentioned, and that it arises from a pious desire, without much efficacy, then our youth are very skilful in circumventing all hindrances and all prohibitions, and yet it has the “merit” of reminding parents that they must manage their use and measure the risk of inappropriate use. Never forget that providers of digital content, applications, network games, etc. Pursuing only one goal is very strong loyalty, And the practice of what might be called addictive marketing. Addiction marketing that does not only affect young people, far from it!

Screens meet basic psychological needs.

The first reason :

It responds perfectly to three basic human needs namely: autonomy, a sense of competence and social connections (Laguardia & Ryan, 2000). Meeting these needs enhances motivation and commitment.

  • What about the need for autonomy: When a child has a phone – more and more developed and earlier and older – he becomes the manager of a technological object that allows him to do as many activities as he wants. This ranges from accessing a digital workspace (ENT) in middle and high school classrooms, to, of course, digital social networking or online gaming. For a child whose phone or tablet the parents lend him, the perceived autonomy is certainly temporary, but equally powerful since he or she has access to this coveted tool that does not belong to him or her.
  • How about the need to feel competent: Everything is done so that the child can intuitively consume the targeted activities (games, videos, advertisements) and thus feel competent in using the technologies. Digital literacy is encouraged, including at school, as well as the development of digital skills (device pix). This skill also gives a sense of control, very reassuring, a teen who is failing at school, a little lost, will regain self-confidence in a controlled world. Which will ultimately make things worse from an academic point of view…. And it strengthens his addiction.
  • The need for social contact: This is nurtured by digital social networking and online cooperative games, especially in adolescence where face-to-face contact with young people of a similar age is sometimes difficult, and even anxiety-provoking for some. At this same age, a sense of community is fostered through activities such as online games in which the teen cooperates with others. However, loneliness can arise due to communication through a screen that restricts perceptions, but also when digital screens and gadgets are used to the detriment of social activities in the presence of other humans.

However, it should be noted that if children are equipped with a mobile phone from an increasingly early age, a study conducted by Stanford University has shown that, under certain circumstances, it may not affect their well-being. As stated by the study’s lead author, Dr. Thomas Robinson, holder of the Irving Shulman Chair in Children’s Health and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine. “A possible explanation for these results is that parents do a good job of tailoring their decision to give their children a phone to the needs of the child and the family. These results should be seen as enabling parents to do what they think is right for their family.”

The second reason:

It should also be added that screens are attractive because they are stimulating and fun. Like all satisfying activities, they will activate the brain’s reward circuitry, without being too costly in terms of mental resources. They allow children to access an endless amount of content that interests them, from fun content to restricted content – and ensure that they are able to circumvent all forms of bans placed – through learning content. Short formats allow kids to get going quickly and keep their attention for only a short time, with little effort.

third reason:

Screens allow a more or less clear immersion in the activity initiated by the child: the child completely forgets the context in which he finds himself, and loses the idea of ​​time. This is even more true if the child is wearing headphones or earphones. The phenomenon of immersion has been described in other contexts (cinema, art), a research article titled “ Can music improve online behavioral intentions by enhancing consumer immersion and experience? Can music improve electronic behavioral intentions by improving consumer immersion and experience? Information and Management, Volume 52, Issue 8, December 2015, Pages 1025-1034, Available here. Carolina Cosmic Marianela fornrino, Agnes Helme-Guizon) demonstrates this.

This immersion that aims to go further with virtual reality and stuttering “metaverses” in full development … an immersion that allows revitalizing emotions and a particularly satisfying sensory experience. Here, the quality of the screen (number of pixels, display depth, colors) that the child is watching, just like the quality of the content, are important factors in this ability to “hypnotize” the little ones.

Inevitability to provide attractive alternatives to children’s screens!

The first thing is to set an example by keeping screen-free activities for parents: walks in nature, interacting without a technological medium, storing your phone somewhere out of sight, and no screen time two hours before bedtime (our digital responsibility recommendations for high school students)!

Board games are a great way to stimulate children’s minds while spending time together as a family. Puzzles and brain teasers can help children develop their fine motor skills and exercise their logical brain.

Reading is an exciting activity that opens doors to imagination and makes memory work. Public libraries often offer children’s reading programs.

Crafts and art activities allow children to express their creativity

In these alternative activities, parents or caregivers should strive to support the three basic psychological needs that we mentioned above. However, the need for autonomy is often forgotten. In fact, when a parent does an activity with a child, they often take charge of a large part of it (structuring the activity, managing dangerous or fragile items, and physical items). Why not consider letting the child be more free to make his own decisions, safely, to allow him to better nurture this need?


Babies are very attracted to screens, and that’s normal, and they’re not enemies, far from it, when they’ve been tamed and trained, and that means taught. Parents, we, you, play an important role in this process, if only by setting an example, and making sure to limit screen use so they can develop their social and motor skills.

And for you parents, to end our long message, do not hesitate to refer to our practical guide, published a few years ago and still available in French and English. If you want to go further to understand that what seems trivial is far from it, we invite you to read our article about TikTok’s strategy, which is bent on manipulating Western youth while adults look elsewhere and contemplate data hacking, which we think is much less disturbing, Ultimately, from brain hacking.

Establishing in moderation gives good life energy. “

Yoga Sutras

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